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Today, with all its beautiful sunshine, makes the colors that are emerging on the trees even more beautiful. It seems that each day the colored foliage is more and more prevalent. Now, the mountains are clearly dotted with yellows, reds and oranges.

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The colors are coming on fast and furious. Every day it seems that there is more and more color in the mountains.  There is serious doubt around our house that there will be any leaves really left on the trees for the leaf peepers that arrive on Columbus Day weekend. In fact, taking a look of the wind blowing around today any of those leaves that have already turned are dropping at a high rate of speed from the trees.

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Seems that we are starting the foliage season already. According to the news, the state will start its foliage reporting to advise leaf peepers of the changing colors. There isn’t much changing happening our way, although you can definitely notice a much lighter green on the trees and a definite yellow tinge to a lot of them. There are some trees that are already changing, mostly those that are either young or stressed.

I thought that it might be fun to post our own foliage report. So, I will post photos of the same view so anyone out there that cares, can watch the leaves in our neck of the woods start the foliage parade through the coming weeks.

Here’s today’s photo. As you can see, not much in the way of color going on yet, but it’s definitely coming.

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I have not had a whole lot of luck growing sunflowers which is pretty frustrating considering just about everyone else can grow these flowers like weeds. For whatever reason, they have been a gardening challenge – either birds or other critters have eaten the seeds before they could germinate or the plants didn’t seem to thrive and never flowered. This year, however, I have sunflowers! Not a lot, just three plants but they are beautiful.

Here are some pictures – seems I’m not the only one that appreciates these beautiful flowers.

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Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Yes, in fact on this first day of spring, we got even more snow. Another few inches of very wet snow fell overnight.

Here’s a throwback for my guy who is celebrating his birthday in a few days.

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I am personally not a stew fan. The guys all love stew and I’ll make it, but I would just as soon make something else for myself rather than eat the stew. It’s nothing personal, I’m told I make good stew, but it just doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal to me. There are things that are just so much more appetizing. That being said, since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and since Irish blood does course through these veins and since we don’t eat corned beef and cabbage, I thought I’d make an Irish stew. I looked online for some Irish stew recipes and decided to go with a hybrid of sorts. A total lamb stew, I’m not sure how that would have gone over since we are not super big lamb eaters. An all beef stew, well, I already stated my opinion on that one. So I mixed them together, threw in some stout beer. I bought a single bottle of chocolate stout from a local brewing company since I couldn’t get a single Guinness (and since we don’t drink beer, I refuse to take up refrigerator space with any) and a bottle of red wine. I started this stew at 4 and we ate at 7. So, it really didn’t take very long at all and came out tasting quite good and coming from a non-stew lover, this is really, really high praise.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs lamb stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck stew meat cut into bite size pieces

2 T. tomato paste

1 t. sugar

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle chocolate stout beer of your choice

1 c. red wine (I used Shiraz)

4 c. beef broth (I used 1 T beef base with 4 cups water)

3 T. butter

6-7 carrots cut into bite size pieces

6-7 Yukon gold potatoes cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion cut into bite size pieces

2 bay leaves

olive oil for searing

salt and pepper to taste

Process:

1. I took the cut up beef and lamb and browned it in the olive oil in my dutch oven. I did the lamb first and then the beef. Removed it to a bowl when each was done.

2. I put the cooked meat back into the pan and added my onion, sauteed for a few minutes.

3. Add stout, red wine, beef broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cover.

4. In a separate pan, add butter and saute carrots for about 15 minutes. Turn off and leave in pan.

5. Allow meat to simmer, covered, for one hour. Then add potatoes and carrots, season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Allow to cook uncovered at a medium heat  for approximately 40 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked through.

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P1110996Truth can be stranger than any fiction. We were reading an interesting article yesterday about parasitic flies that are eating the brains of Vermont honeybees. These flies, known as phorid flies pierce the abdomen of honeybees and deposit eggs. The fly larvae then consume the insides of the honeybees, turning them into what has been dubbed zombees. These bees exhibit extremely strange behavior such as leaving the hive in the dark and have been seen flying around outdoor lights, where they often are found dead the next day. This is strange with a capital “S” behavior.

There have been a lot of sightings of zombees on the west coast and yesterday we learned that these zombees have been found most recently in Vermont as well. There is a site called www.zombeewatch.org which is attempting to document the presence of these zombees. They are looking for zombee hunters, (a/k/a citizen scientists) so if you’re passion has been to hunt zombies, hunting zombees might be up your alley. There is a tutorial on how to become a zombee hunter on the website, which includes collecting the dead bees that you may find in certain outdoor locations into resealable plastic bags. The guide will instruct you on how to make a light trap to capture zombees and how to contain the dead bees while you wait and then watch the larvae emerge. Since I personally squirm when there are maggots in the summer garbage can, I most definitely can tell you that this is not the project for me; I am sure that those who are of much hardier stock may take some great interest in helping the folks at ZomBeewatch.org document the presence of these infected bees around the country.  I mean, how cool it is t be able to say that you are both a citizen scientist and a zombee hunter in the same breath?

Today is one of those autumn days when you know that fall has reached its peak. You don’t need a weather forecaster or foliage specialist to let you know that we are on the spiral to winter.

Most of the leaves up on the hill are making their way from their home in the branches to the ground where they create a colorful fall carpet and make the wonderful rustling noises that make you unable to resist dragging your feet through the leaves as you walk along. Today it is raining, off and on, and the leaves are falling from the trees like snow. It won’t be long before the trees up here are bare.

Color is about as good as it is going to get, it is almost bursting with yellows, oranges and reds. The surrounding mountains are speckled with the colors of fall.

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Today was a peppery kind of day. I bought a bushel of sweet peppers at the farmer’s market today and combined it with some other delicious pasilla peppers from Alchemy Gardens. I added to that peppers from my CSA at Evening Song Farm and my own poblano peppers. What does one do with all those peppers?

First, I washed seeded and cut up a bunch to freeze for later in the winter, when we need some homegrown peppers. These will remind us of the warm weather when gardening is but a dream.

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Then I roasted a whole lot of the peppers. Some of them were fixed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil. We will have these with some homemade bread from the farmer’s market for dinner tonight.

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Finally, I took some of the roasted peppers and canned them for use later on, much like you would buy in the store. These will be added to pasta or soup, or some other goodies in the coming weeks.

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The past couple days the road at the bottom of the hill has been closed due to railroad track repairs.  That for us is the easiest and most direct route to Rutland and Ludlow. I have become very accustomed to living here. Driving to get somewhere isn’t really all that big of a deal, however, when a commonly traveled road is closed, it can put a kink in your plans. For instance, one of the boys forgot the other day and for some unknown reason the huge traffic sign indicating that the road was closed from that direction was located about 100 feet from the actual road closure. Not much for notice especially since by that time you have driven the better part of 15 minutes to get to the closed road. Needless to say, he was not a happy boy. Despite attempting to negotiate with the crew working explaining that he lived just on the other side of the closed road, he was forced to turn around drive the 15 minutes down to Route 7 and then into Wallingford and up the other side of the closed road to get home. Not a good time.

As I was driving today, thankfully remembering that the road was closed and actually purposefully driving out of my way in order to go to the post office (which of course happened to be right on the very other side of the road closure) I realized that we do indeed live on a mountain (although we refer to it as a hill) and there aren’t but a few ways to get from one side to the other. Unfortunately, if you are like my son, hopefully you remember before you trek miles essentially on what was for all practical purposes a dead end road and have to turn around.

After traveling to the post office (and double checking that the road was indeed still closed for repairs – because would I have felt stupid if I drove all those extra miles when the road was open) I turned around and cut across the only other way between here and there. In the words of Mr. Frost – the road less traveled (which these past couple days has most likely seen more traffic than normal). It was a very beautiful late summer day.

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This afternoon, the sun was perfect and I got out the camera and took these:

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It’s hard to believe that there’s one less Heffernan boy in the house this year when school started today, although for him school started a couple days ago. This year, of the two boys still in high school, one is a senior and one is a junior. Hard to believe that they are so grown up. They both departed for school driving their respective vehicles since after school activities and jobs will take them in two different directions at the end of the day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for “back to school”. I’m still a student at heart and the newness of a new school year, the possibilities, the clean slate are all good things. Pair that up with autumn, my favorite time of the year and well, it’s just perfection. I am sure however, that a lot of children, especially my own, probably would beg to differ.

The air is different, there are warm days and cool, crisp nights. There are chilly mornings. The color is coming onto the hill, slow but steady – every day there is more and more of it and September hasn’t even arrived yet and the official start of fall, or end of summer, depending on your perspective, is weeks away.

Have a wonderful day particularly if this is the first day of back to school. Whether you’re celebrating a new school year and all the possibilities that come along with it, or simply rejoicing that the kids are back to school and occupied for the majority of the day – enjoy!

Happy First Day of School from the hill here in Vermont.

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I made these peach preserves over the weekend with fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, are they good. I found the recipe here at Natasha’s Kitchen and I suggest that you hop on over there to check it out. I adapted it a bit to add a touch of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon) to the peaches before I jarred them. I had my doubts since the recipe takes a couple days to complete, but it seems that it is well worth the wait.

 

Evilwife on the move

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http://tammyheff.wordpress.com
2012.
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